A senior official at China’s National Energy Association has been dismissed as a widening anti-corruption campaign envelops the key power sector, long the domain of one of the country’s former leaders.
Xu Yongsheng was dismissed as deputy director of the NEA, state media said yesterday. He is one of four senior NEA officials – including those overseeing nuclear power, coal and renewable energy – to be placed under investigation in the past 10 days.
President Xi Jinping unleashed a wide-ranging anti-corruption drive in 2013 and vowed to target powerful “tigers” as well as lowly “flies”. Until now, the campaign has primarily focused on allies of powerful former energy and security chief Zhou Yongkang.
But the focus on the energy industry has been seen by some as an attempt to weaken the power base of another influential retired leader, Li Peng. Mr Li was premier from 1988 to 1998 and is widely associated with the military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square 25 years ago.
Veteran political commentator Willy Lam, who says the Li family is “very intertwined in power”, interprets the move as further steps by Mr Xi to challenge the activities of party elders and princelings.
“The purpose is not just to humiliate but to send a message to powerful clients within the party that they had better behave themselves and rein in the lucrative business dealings of the princelings.”
In at least seven cases in the past five weeks, anti-corruption investigators have detained energy industry technocrats, in a shift away from the oil and mining sectors where Mr Zhou’s allies were concentrated.
“The energy sector is dominated by state-owned companies and cases in which people trade power for money abound,” said Deng Yuwen, former deputy editor for the Study Times, an influential newspaper run by the Communist party.
A year ago, the head of the NEA, Liu Tienan, was one of the first to be investigated in the anti-corruption campaign, after being accused of corruption by an influential journalist. No formal charges have been announced.On Tuesday, Huang Baodong, former deputy head of Power Construction Corporation of China was stripped of his party membership for “exploiting his office on behalf of others’ interests” and “accepting massive bribes, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Neither Mr Liu nor Mr Huang could be reached for comment
Losing party membership is often a prelude to being handed over to the criminal courts, after the Communist party’s internal investigation is concluded.
Mr Li, a Soviet-trained hydropower engineer, has been a strong advocate for big dam projects in China, including the Three Gorges dam.
His son, Li Xiaopeng, and daughter, Li Xiaolin, headed two of China’s top five power generators. The younger Mr Li is now governor of coal-rich Shanxi province.
The conflict between China’s planning apparatus and the demands of a booming economy have been particularly acute in the coal and power generation sectors. A decade ago, increasing energy blackouts and rising prices opened a window for private generators and miners to expand, creating opportunities for graft as they jostled for permits and contracts.
Additional reporting by Owen Guo
一年前，中国国家能源局局长刘铁男成为第一批在反腐败斗争中落马的官员之一，此前他被一位知名记者实名举报腐败。官方至今没有宣布对他正式提起公诉。本周二，中国电力建设集团(Power Construction Corporation of China)原副总经理黄保东被开除党籍。中共中央纪律检查委员会指控他“利用职务上的便利为他人谋取利益，收受他人巨额贿赂”。记者联系不上刘铁男或黄保东请其置评。